Natalie Cofield (234927)
Credit: Contributed

In 1987, March was declared Women’s History Month. During this month, Americans celebrate women of all races who dedicated their lives fighting and ensuring equality and the protection of women’s rights. Unfortunately, women are still fighting for equality. Statistically, women are more likely to be paid less than a male for the same work and are less likely to have a high leadership position in business. However, numerous organizations and activists have been speaking up and making a difference for decades. Women’s History Month recognizes and celebrates that.

It is important for people to recognize women in history and today who are making a difference and beating all odds. It is even more important to acknowledge African-American women who were able to become successful and educate others who share similar aspirations. One entrepreneur who became the founder and CEO of three business-related organizations, Walker’s Legacy, Walker’s Legacy Foundation and Urban Co-Lab, by the age of 30, is Natalie Madeira Cofield. Because she has so many achievements as a millennial, she has been named one of the Technology Diversity Evangelist of the Year by Google, one of the Top 10 Black Innovators by MVMT50 and a 2017 Diversity Leader by Profiles in Diversity Journal. She is included in the top 40 Under 40 in Tech by the National Diversity Council. Her work has been also featured in Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise, The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes, Business Insider and more.

Cofield is an honors graduate of Howard University and was a student in Bill Gates Millennium Scholars Program. She also attended Baruch School of Public Affairs. Both Walker’s Legacy and the Walker’s Legacy Foundation aim to empower and equip African-American women to become successful entrepreneurs. This organization has been named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 25 Companies Determined to See Women Succeed and has engaged partners such as Google, HP, IBM, Wells Fargo and W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

Cofield was inspired to name her organizations by Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American tycoon, because of Walker’s entrepreneurial legacy. “Walker’s Legacy has the support and assistance of Madam C.J. Walker’s great-great granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles who is based in Washington, D.C.,” said Cofield. “This is the anniversary year of Madam Walker’s 150th birthday and Walker’s Legacy is particularly excited about the opportunity to speak more about her groundbreaking work, and continue on her legacy.”

Walker’s Legacy and Walker’s Legacy Foundation are partnered with the National Women’s Business Council and the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy on Black Women Entrepreneurs. As partners, they are able to host various programs to inspire women of all ages regardless of their personal stage in business. Certain programs that they often host are the PROSPECTUS Online Business Accelerator, University Women Initiative and Moms Who Hustle: A Financial Planning and Entrepreneurship Program for Millennial Moms.

“Our recent program series encompasses the energy and pride that exist in both Black History Month and now that we are in March, Women’s History Month,” Cofield told the AmNews. “We’re excited to champion this work with organizations such as General Assembly, a partnering organization that, too, recognizes the importance of empowering underrepresented professional communities by raising such an important conversation.”

In February 2017, they hosted panel discussions in cities such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta to discuss their organization, strategic skills and business growth. At each event, the panels were led by experts and professionals. And every event was sold out, with hundreds of attendees. During this month, they are expected to have another panel discussion during SXSWEdu conference in Austin, Texas. The panel discussion will be led by experts in technology, education, media and entrepreneurship.

“Black women play—and have played—a vital role in the entrepreneurial landscape within the U.S.,” said Cofield. “This, our work, content and important programs like Conversation with Black Women Entrepreneurs, helps to assess the historic and present day unique challenges this community of fast growing entrepreneurs face while establishing and launching businesses.”

The Walker’s Legacy PROSPECTUS Accelerated Business Program will be hosting a nine-week business development training program. During this session, participants will be trained on how to solve predicaments entrepreneurs face. It commences with the Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Summit and Pitch Competition. This event will be taken place in Houston, April 8, 2017. Another opportunity the Walker’s Legacy is hosting is the spring PROSPECTUS. During this event, 75 female founders will have an opportunity to compete for a $5,000 funding prize. Companies such as Google, Kiva Zip and Wells Fargo among others partnered with Walker’s Legacy will be present at this competition to help businesswomen take their endeavors to the next level. The summit additionally offers attendees content-filled programming that allows them to network with fellow industry experts and aspiring business owners. Recently, the Walker’s Legacy and GLOSSRAGS, the brand behind the And Counting Collection and other wearable activism designs, have co-designed a T-shirt that highlights African-American entrepreneurs.  

“We’re excited to be working with Randi and her inspirational clothing line to further our mission of engaging women of color in business and entrepreneurship,” said Cofield. “The #BEENBOSS design commemorates the achievements of women of color and supports the entrepreneurial spirit that drives both Walker’s Legacy and GLOSSRAGS.”

The #BEENBOSS T-shirt includes multicultural enterprising women from the past and present day. “It’s exciting to work with Walker’s Legacy to pay homage to such a dynamic group of women and what continues to be a growing legacy of women in business,” said Randi Gloss, founder of GLOSSRAGS.

GLOSSRAGS was founded in April 2014. Gloss believes it is important to bring awareness of social activism of African-Americans presented through crafted designs and apparel.

To find more information about Cofield or the #Beenboss tee visit:  www.walkerslegacy.com/.